Residents of Pagan Island have responded critically to comments made by GUASA member Juan Carlos Benitez at a Rotary Club of Guam meeting last week.
Earlier this year, DOD issued a notice of its intent to take control over the entire island of Pagan and turn it into a vast training complex. DOD’s proposal has come under fierce protest from the people of Pagan, as well as regional and national organizations worried about the environmental destruction that would occur if DOD were allowed to bomb the island.
“Pagan is home,” said Jerome Aldan, who was born and reared on Pagan. “We have been waiting decades for a chance to return, and now we’ve been told that we may never go back home because DOD needs another firing range.”
Benitez, a member of the military lobbyist group GUASA, called the use of Pagan Island as a combined level training range the “key lynchpin” to the proposed military buildup in Guam and the Marianas. Benitez pointed out the need for military pilots to experience firsthand a bomb hitting the earth.
“It’s appalling to hear that military lobbyists on Guam are offering other people’s homes to profit off construction contracts,” said Aldan.
Aldan pointed out that DOD currently has control over another island in the Northern Marianas, Farallon de Medinilla. “Military war birds are presently dropping bombs and silencing native birds on Farallon de Medinilla, an island that is part of the Northern Islands archipelago just north of Saipan. DOD does not need to take my home to bomb and silence our thriving wildlife and teeming marine life too. Our islands in the Marianas are sacred. We have given up Tinian, Tanapag, and FDM already for the defense of our country. We must protect the islands that we now have for the present and future generations to enjoy and benefit from. Enough is enough.”
For more information about the beauty of Pagan Island and the ongoing efforts to it, visit http://www.savepaganisland.org. This website is also linked with Sierra Club, Roots Action, and Care2 Make a Difference sites in the U.S. Other national groups and organizations are linking up as well. (PR)